Divorce continues to rock the foundation of American marriage, and unfortunately, it's one of the many things we lead the world in.
Divorce sometimes seems to impact men in a more intense way than women. The late mediation expert Kathleen O'Connell Corcoran explains it this way, "... Men are usually confronted with greater emotional adjustment problems than women [after a divorce.] The reasons for this are related to the loss of intimacy, the loss of social connection, reduced finances and the common interruption of the parental role.
"Men remarry more quickly than women. Men are initially more negative about divorce than women and devote more energy in attempting to salvage the marriage."
Some believe that the justice system is skewed toward women (especially mothers). Men often end up with much less time with their children, and they're stretched financially beyond what is fair or feasible in some cases.
Interestingly, even though with the weight of child-rearing, financial stress, and housing weighing on women, they still initiate divorce more often than men.
Researchers believe that women, who tend to recognize marital problems faster than men do, have had more time to accept the ending of the relationship. Corcoran believes that women also reach out for help from others more easily and may even experience an increase in self-esteem rather than a drop in their self-worth after a divorce.
Fathers undergoing divorce should know that the more connected they are to their children prior to separation, the better. Research shows that the length and intensity of conflict between parents makes a huge impact on how children manage. Parents who can communicate well with each other and their children will have better adjusted children.
Neil Millar, coach for divorcing and separated dads, gives this advice for managing emotions during this time:
- Resist the urge to call your [soon to be ex] and tell her anything. If you have children you have to see them, [but] do it out of the house and away from your ex.
- Make sure you go for a walk every evening, around 2-3 hours before you go to bed. The fresh air and the physical movement will help lift your spirits and you may actually begin to resolve things while you're walking.
- Twice a day, sit in silence for 5-15 minutes. Focus on your breathing, expand your stomach as you breath in, contract it as you breath out. Acknowledge your thoughts and write them down if they are persistent. This is good for relieving stress, both on the brain and the body.
- Consider mediation, coaching or counseling. Go to mediation to arrive at a fair understanding of how you dissolve things. Get coaching on how you move forward in your life and how you can both work effectively with your kids. Go for counseling if you are unable to resolve your own issues.
- Try to avoid mud slinging. Try to avoid court, it costs a fortune. Settle the divorce as quickly and simply as possible. Be prepared to give and take in the negotiation.
- During all the confusion and reorganizing things, please consider that in every challenge, there is an opportunity for growth. Look for your opportunity.
Men will do well to read about and discuss the potential impact of a divorce beforehand, creating a plan for support and ongoing sources of advice for themselves.
Helpful books to help men maneuver during and after a divorce:
"Breakup," Leo Averbach," "From Courtship to Courtroom", Jed Abraham," "A Man's Feelings, Finding Closure After Divorce," Michael Eads.
Tabi Upton,MA-lpc, is a therapist at CBI-Richmont Counseling Center and founder of www.chattanoogacounselor.com, a local resource guide. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.